The US confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant coronavirus in the country.


This is a person from the state of California who returned from South Africa 10 days ago. Health authorities analyze measures to tighten the rules for travelers from abroad.

A person from California became the first identified case in the United States of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. This comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new strain of the virus.

The information was confirmed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief epidemiologist at the White House, who detailed that the person carrying the new strain returned from South Africa on November 22 is fully vaccinated - without booster doses - and at a press conference So far, she had mild symptoms.

The patient is quarantined, and all of his close contacts have been notified and have tested negative for covid.

Genomic sequencing of the case was carried out by the University of California, San Francisco. "We knew it was a matter of time before the first omicron case was detected in the United States," Fauci said.

Asked by the local press about the risks of the new variant, he remarked that so far, "there is not enough information." "There is no evidence that Omicron is (a variant) more serious, but more information is needed," he said.

America's leading infectious disease expert said more would be known about the Omicron strain in two to four weeks as scientists grow and analyze laboratory samples of the virus.

During the conference this Wednesday, he reiterated the call to get vaccinated and apply the booster dose to those who correspond. However, he also urged to maintain the usual care, such as the use of masks indoors. "We always debate things that we should do better, but now we must implement the tools that we have."

The administration of President Joe Biden took steps late last month to restrict travel from southern Africa, where the variant was first identified and spread rapidly. Clusters of cases have also been identified in two dozen other countries.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking steps to tighten the rules for travelers from abroad, which are expected to be announced this Thursday.

Those measures will require a test for all travelers within one day of boarding a flight to the United States, regardless of vaccination status. The possibility of imposing testing after arrival is also being considered.

Fauci announced that foreign visitors could be subjected to a "seven-day quarantine" upon arrival in the country, in addition to the COVID-19 test of the last 24 hours.

The authorities affirmed that these measures would only serve to "buy time" for the country to understand the new variant better and take the appropriate precautions. Given its transmissibility, its arrival in the United States was inevitable.

Much is still unknown about the new strain, such as whether it is more contagious than previous strains, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine. Without going into detail, Fauci commented that the molecular profile of the Ómicron strain suggests that this variant could be more transmissible.

The announcement of the first case in the United States comes before President Biden is scheduled to outline his strategy for fighting the virus through the winter on Thursday. The president has tried to calm the alarm about the new strain, arguing that it was a cause for concern but "not a cause for panic."

Biden and public health officials have increased the urgency of their calls for more Americans to get vaccinated. Those who have been vaccinated receive booster shots to maximize their protection against the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized this Wednesday that vaccines against the coronavirus could be less effective against the new omicron variant but insisted that there should be no alarm, clarifying that they would continue to protect against severe forms of the disease.

In its weekly epidemiological report, the WHO, which so far has received notifications of cases of the new variant from 23 countries, indicates that some omicron mutations "could increase its transmission capacity and/or allow a certain degree of escape from immunity.".

In other words, it is believed that existing vaccines - which can also be modified in the coming months to adapt to the omicron variant - may be less effective in preventing the simple spread of COVID-19.

This has already happened with the delta variant. According to the report last week, since it has become the dominant one in the world (more than 99% of current global cases), it has reduced protection against contagions from 60 to 40 percent. WHO itself.